Government guidance “a step in the right direction” says British Safety Council chief executive

British Safety Council welcomes new guidance but calls for renewed focus on leadership and employee mental health and wellbeing

The British Safety Council has today offered a cautious welcome to the government’s latest guidance  for employers. According to the government, the new ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are available to UK employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. But the British Safety Council wants to see a greater focus on leadership and mental health and wellbeing as more people return to work.

Speaking from his home today Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council said:

“As workplaces start re-opening in the coming weeks and months the main priority must be to ensure that employees are safe – this guidance gives much-needed clarity and should reassure workers and employers. But this is just the start. The return to work will have huge implications on employees’ mental health and wellbeing and I hope that this will be prioritised as government advice evolves.

“I also want to see more emphasis on leadership as a driver of best practice in health and safety. Employers who prioritise safe workplaces, work together with their people to come up with new ways of working, communicate effectively and lead by example, will have happier, safer, more productive workplaces. We’ve always argued that what is good for people is good for business – that’s never been truer than in the post-lockdown workplace.”

“This more detailed guidance is a step in the right direction, providing employers with more clarity – something that sadly wasn’t the case earlier in the week. The reality is that workplaces are going to look very different from what we are used to, and it makes sense to give people as much information as possible before expecting them to turn up for work”.

The guidance was produced in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Public Health England (PHE), and stakeholders in business, trade unions and the devolved administrations.  

Mike Robinson went on to say:

“It’s a mantra of health and safety that we should “Plan, do, act, check” – in that order! Now that employers have been given the tools to start planning, they can get ready to start doing again. We are helping our members to do just that, supporting them in making workplaces safe in this new, and rapidly-changing environment.”

The British Safety Council has developed new support for employers, including professional support, guidance and independent assurance to enable organisations to develop and implement suitable protocols and arrangements within the workplace.